Heres how I got my first article published. Ive set down the process because it may give you some idea how a compelling thought can be refined into an article idea.
As Ive noted above, a writer needs no inside track to get a response from editors in the IT field. For my first article assignment, though, I did have an inside track, since Debbie, my sister, was an editor at a new, limited-circulation magazine, NYCitylife . I had an idea for the magazines special section on changing ones life in mid-career.
I believed that programming would make a good second career, especially if the applicant had a business background. In that spring of 1998, jobs were plentifulindeed, corporations appetite for programmers, especially legacy-code programmers, was so ravenous that companies were luring workers out of retirement to get Americas business and government computers ready for the start of Year 2000.
But where were all the applicants ? I surmised that people were still staying away in droves because they believe the stereotype that programming is dull work. I also wanted to get the word out that English and history majors, despite their dislike of math, can become splendid programmers. So I wrote a short proposal (one and a half pages) to the NYCitylife editor-in-chief, asking her to let me make my case (programming is a terrific , creative career) to the readers of the magazine. I got the assignment. Writing the piece was easy. I just had to pour my thoughts into the computer; after all, Id been obsessing on this very subject for many months.